Download A Comet of the Enlightenment: Anders Johan Lexell's Life and by Johan C.-E. Stén PDF

By Johan C.-E. Stén

The Finnish mathematician and astronomer Anders Johan Lexell (1740–1784) was once a long-time shut collaborator in addition to the educational successor of Leonhard Euler on the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg. Lexell was once in the beginning invited through Euler from his local city of Abo (Turku) in Finland to Saint Petersburg to help within the mathematical processing of the astronomical facts of the impending transit of Venus of 1769. many years later he turned a regular member of the Academy. this is often the first-ever full-length biography dedicated to Lexell and his prolific clinical output. His wealthy correspondence particularly from his grand travel to Germany, France and England unearths him as a lucid observer of the highbrow panorama of enlightened Europe. within the skies, a comet, a minor planet and a crater at the Moon named after Lexell additionally perpetuate his memory.

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Additional resources for A Comet of the Enlightenment: Anders Johan Lexell's Life and Discoveries

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E. quadrants fixed to a wall, could also serve as passage instruments (the sextant is a better known portable version of the instrument). Telescopes used for the closer study of the celestial objects were of two kinds (and many varieties): refractors, where the light from a star is collected by a lens, and reflectors, where the light is collected by a concave mirror. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, refractor telescopes suffered from achromatic error, that is, the blurring of the image due to the differing refractive indices for light of different colours.

The discovery of this deficiency in Leibniz, albeit already known to the scientific community since the debate on the Principle of least action in the 1740s, was undoubtedly a major stimulus to the young Lexell. The work is interesting also since it describes the literature available to Wallenius and Lexell. Besides references to Leibniz the work cites Euclid’s Elements, 12 The process of finding the area of a figure by constructing a square with the same area is called squaring or quadrature. 13 These quite original problems were solved using integral calculus.

In general, the attitude in Sweden towards the new calculus, whether of Leibniz or Newton, was pragmatic. g. Newton’s Principia, the Cologne edition from 1760), but since these books were very valuable, Lexell may have acquired them later. The number of books on mathematics, physics, chemistry and astronomy in the academic library in Åbo was limited: However, the Opera of both Jakob and Johann Bernoulli, the principal works of Leibniz, ’s Gravesande and Musschenbroek had been acquired before the 1750s [165].

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